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Dodgers TV marathon

June 2, 2008 |  5:16 am
1958_0502_omalley
Photograph by the Los Angeles Times

From left, Danny Thomas, Walter O'Malley and Bill Frawley at the "Dodgerthon."

June 2, 1958

By Keith Thursby
Times staff writer

1958_0602_cover Now batting for the Dodgers, Ronald Reagan.

The future president and California governor certainly stood out in a long list of celebrities and politicians who took part in a five-hour TV show backing the Dodgers and Proposition B. Other familiar names included Dean Martin, Danny Thomas, George Burns and Debbie Reynolds.

So much for equal time -- this was five hours on local television to promote a ballot measure on the June 3 election to endorse the city's deal with the Dodgers for a stadium at Chavez Ravine.  The Dodgers, finishing a road trip in Chicago, would get back in town just in time.

According to a story in The Times, the program started at the Channel 11 studios, "then the bevy of entertainers and sports figures went to the airport where they met the team upon its arrival from Chicago after its 1-0 victory."

Reagan was quoted extensively in the story, which makes for fun reading since his political career isn't too far in his future.

"Sure, Walter O'Malley got a good deal when he was offered Chavez Ravine as a site for his ballpark," Reagan said. "Any deal to be good must be fair to both sides, not just to one.

"For years we have been watching golf courses and other recreation areas destroyed to make room for subdivisions and factories. Where is a baseball stadium to go, in the suburbs, away from the freeways?"

I can't imagine a viewer lasting five hours, even if you had nothing better to do that night. Five hours seems more fitting for the telethon of telethons, Jerry Lewis' annual fundraiser to fight muscular dystrophy. Lewis, of course, was also part of the Dodgers' night.

He noted that 8,000 children with muscular dystrophy had attended events at the Coliseum, and another ballpark would be a good thing for Jerry's kids.

keith.thursby@latimes.com

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